An Exclusive Interview with Louis D'Amore
"IIPT believes that we can learn much from the cultures and spiritual heritage of other societies – that we are all sons and daughters of the One Creator – and therefore brothers and sisters in our one common home – planet earth. We believe that the well-being of each of us – is dependent on the well being of all of us – and the well-being of the earth", said Louis D'Amore is Founder and President of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), in a special Interview with The Region Initiative Newsletter.
He believes that all religions promote peace and love among human beings and peace can practically be achieved when people of different religions and races meet each other and that is the tool Tourism provides to socities.
Here is detail Interview with Mr. Louis D'Amore
Q: You have been striving for Peace through Tourism since lmost quarter of a century. Has your philosophy been achieved?
I can vividly remember my first seeding the idea of Peace through Tourism. It was in November 1983 at Canada’s first national “Tourism Outlook Forum.” As the futurist to the Canadian tourism industry, I was asked to give the opening keynote address. My speech was designed to frame the one year ‘Canadian Travel Outlook’ within a broader and longer term context. Then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was in the final months of office before retiring and had taken these final months to travel to world capitals meeting with Heads of State to discuss prospects for bringing an end to the Cold War. As a legacy, he established the Canadian Institute for Peace and Security. I concluded my keynote address suggesting that the Canadian tourism industry support Prime Minister Trudeau by being a catalyst for peace in the world.
I continued to seed the idea for an international conference on Tourism and Peace with leaders of the industry in Canada over the next three years. The responses I received were:
This is the baseline with which we began.
With the peaking of terrorism 1985–86, most of it aimed at the tourism industry – tourism around the world went down by a third – and the “lights went on.” The connection of “peace and tourism” was made – without peace, there is no tourism. At its next annual conference, the Travel Industry of Canada (TIAC) unanimously voted to support a resolution calling for an International Conference on Peace and Tourism. The International Institute was subsequently born in June 1986, and the First Global Conference: Tourism – A Vital Force for Peace was held in Vancouver, October 1988 fully endorsed and supported by the Canadian Tourism industry and the Government of Canada. Since its founding in 1986, the UN International Year of Peace, IIPT has been promoting a ‘Higher Purpose’ of tourism including the key role of tourism in:
Promoting international understanding
Collaboration among nations
Protecting the environment and preserving biodiversity
Enhancing cultures and valuing heritage
Poverty reduction and
Reconciliation and healing wounds of conflict
This ‘Higher Purpose’ of tourism with its capacity to generate social, cultural, economic, environmental and political benefits, is now broadly recognized and has gained acceptance at the highest levels.
Theme of World Travel Market 2001, two months following 9-11, was “Peace through Tourism” – and paid tribute to IIPT.
In just the past month, a global study released by Marriott at the World Economic Forum, revealed that 77 percent of respondents felt that “the more people experience other countries and cultures, the more peace will spread.”
Also this past month (March 2012) , Turkey's Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay, in his address opening the Eastern Mediterranean International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (EMİTT), the world’s fifth largest tourism exhibition, emphasized how tourism must be used as a tool to promote peace in the world. Tourism ministers and delegates of countries as diverse as Argentina, Slovenia, Russia and Palestine also gave speeches in which they emphasized the potential contribution of tourism to peace in the world through its ability to connect people of different cultures.
Q: How and why did you initiate the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)?
I was one of the first futurists in North America conducting studies on the future of cities, education, leisure, transportation, Great Lakes water quality, the Canadian Forest, the environment, and other areas. In 1973 -4, during the “first energy crisis” when a barrel of oil increased four-fold overnight from US$ 2.00 a barrel to US$ 8.0 a barrel, I was commissioned by the Canadian Government Office of Tourism (CGOT) to look at the impact this would have on Canadian Tourism. This study went very well and led to a further commission to do the world’s first comprehensive study on the future of tourism in 1975-76. The study was conducted through a “North American lens” with all signs for the future of tourism being very positive – a bullish economy, higher wages/salaries, higher levels of education, longer vacations, a growing number of persons retiring with pensions, etc.
I was asked to update the study in 1978 and to provide more quantitative data. With this study, I saw that change was happening so rapidly that it would need to be continuously monitored – so I introduced a service called “TOURSCAN” – which was an on-going monitoring system of social, cultural, demographic, environmental trends – and trends within the industry – e.g. we suggested in the early 1980’s that Adventure Tourism and Experiential Tourism would become major markets.
By the early 1980’s, our focus began to shift from a “North American lens” – to a “Global lens” – and with this shift, we had a whole different view of the future – a view of the future that included: the growing tensions of East and West with the rhetoric of an “Evil Empire;” the increasing gap of “have” and have not “regions of the world;” accelerating environmental deterioration and species loss; and by the mid-1980’s the early signs of global warming; and the peaking of terrorism as indicted above.
After prayerful reflection over a period of two years, I decided that I would devote my life to the best of my ability, bring awareness to these issues within the industry – and the role that travel and tourism – as the world’s largest industry – could play in bringing about a peaceful and sustainable world. And so in 1986, the UN International Year of Peace – IIPT was born and organization of the First Global Conference: Tourism – A Vital Force for Peace began with the support of the Canadian travel and tourism industry – and the Government of Canada.
Q: What were the outcomes of your two most recent African onferences held in Kampala, Uganda and Lusaka, Zambia.
In both Uganda and Zambia, our host country Presidents - H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President, Republic of Uganda, and H.E. Rupiah B. Banda, President, Republic of Zambia – declared the week of the Conference, “National Peace through Tourism Week.” This served to create extensive national media coverage prior to, during, and following the conferences and in turn creating awareness with the local populations of the importance of tourism to their respective countries in terms of the economy, job creation, poverty reduction, wildlife, environment, etc.
Major achievements in Uganda included, the world’s first Tourism Legislation in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals; and in Zambia, the Lusaka Declaration on Tourism, Climate Change and Peace which has been widely distributed. The Zambia conference also resulted in an on-line publication: Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change to Tourism based on the many excellent presentations made at the conference and articles from selected other authors.
Let me mention that IIPT Scholarships were awarded in both conferences to the inter-disciplinary team of students writing the best paper on the theme of the Conference. IIPT International Peace Parks were dedicated in both Uganda and Zambia as a legacy of each Conference – in Uganda, at the Uganda Martyr’s Trail (also launched as a legacy of the Uganda Conference) and in Zambia, at Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
I believe that other outcomes of the Zambia Conference included:
The first ever “Traditional Leaders Tourism Forum” in Africa organized in collaboration with the Zambia Ethno Tourism and Cultural Tourism Alliance (ZECUTA). The Forum reached consensus on creating a unified brand to represent the chiefdoms and cultures of Zambia to global tourism market.
Ben Sherman, Founder of the Native Tourism Alliance (USA), committed to developing an International Alliance of Indigenous Tourism Leaders in collaboration with IIPT.
Formation of an Industry Stakeholder group to implement recommendations of the Conference.
Formation of an IIPT Student Chapter committed to working with the industry in “Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change to Tourism.”
Interest in the formation of a Zambia Society of Travel Writers.
Media coverage of the conference throughout the world.
Other outcomes of the Uganda Conference included:
First IIPT Lifetime Achievement award presented to Mira Berman for her many years of service in promoting travel to Africa as Executive Director of the Africa Travel Association.
First ever African Media Exchange in Africa.
Four Sister City agreements.
Launch of Uganda Martyrs Trail
Q: Would you like to explain the operative points of Lusaka Declaration?
The Lusaka Declaration draws together the linkages of tourism, environment, climate change and peace, noting the exponential growth in population from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7 billion in 2011, and that it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate the renewable resources that are consumed in one year.
The Declaration states that the global challenges facing humanity call for global solutions and cooperation at all levels – and by all sectors, public and private, and civil society as a whole – on an unprecedented scale. Peace will be an essential prerequisite to achieve this level of cooperation and will also generate the additional economic wealth to fund these solutions.
Travel and tourism, the world’s largest industry, affecting every sector of society, in virtually every nation, an industry that is founded on peace and that contributes to peace and understanding, has a key leadership role to play in achieving these solutions.
Q: The Western Philosophy of Clash of Civilisation and Purist Islamist radicalism like the philosophy of Buko Haram (western education and life style including tourism is forbidden in religion) that are creating problems in Africa. How do you respond?
This is an excellent, but most difficult and complex question that would require a scholarly knowledge of the tribal, colonial, and modern history of Nigeria up to and including the current socio-cultural and economic context of Buko Haram and similar groups particularly in the Horn of Africa - and frankly beyond my ability to give a fully informed answer.
Having said that, while Samuel Huntington wrote about a Clash of Civilizations in the 1990’s, H.E. Mr Mohammed Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran gave a major address at the United Nations in the Year 2000 calling for a Dialogue among Civilizations. The UN responded favorably, and the year 2001 was named the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations and Cultures. Unfortunately, the year 2001 also witnessed 9-11 and the world turned towards conflict rather than dialogue.
While there are elements of Western Culture that are not acceptable to Islam, one can question the violent acts of Buko Haram towards Christians in their own country being in the spirit of Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Prophet Muhammad taught tolerance and respect towards Christians and Jews and saw both these Abrahamic religions as the basis of Islam. This is reflected in the Holy Koran which also teaches respect towards Christians and Jews and recognizes much in common with the Bible and Torah.
Further, The Prophet Muhammad was a living example of tolerance and respect to the older religions of Judaism and Christianity. In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
IIPT believes that we can learn much from the cultures and spiritual heritage of other societies – that we are all sons and daughters of the One Creator – and therefore brothers and sisters in our one common home – planet earth. We believe that the well-being of each of us – is dependent on the well being of all of us – and the well-being of the earth.
Q: Your major psychological and moral investment appears to be iin the African continent? Do you think the Middle East and South Asia need more discussions and dialogue for Peace through Tourism. Do you have future plans for such dialogue or conferences in Middle East and South Asia?
Yes, it does appear that most of our conferences have been in Africa, particularly in the past ten years with five African Conferences and I agree that there is a need for more discussion and dialogue for Peace through Tourism in the Middle East and South Asia. We did however have our First Global Summit in Amman, Jordan, November 2000 resulting in the Amman Declaration on Tourism and Peace, which subsequently became an official document of the United Nations.
That Summit took eleven years to make happen. Efforts towards a Middle East Conference began a few months after our first Global Conference in Vancouver 1988 where Egypt’s then Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dr. Fouad Sultan, was one of our featured keynote speakers. I was subsequently invited to Cairo to give a keynote address and met with Dr. Sultan – and from Cairo went on to Jerusalem to meet with then Israeli Minister of Tourism, Gideon Patt. Both agreed to move forward with a conference – but when I followed up with each of them on my return from the region, the response I received was “when the time is right.” I made several more attempts and all was looking positive in 1997 when again, the political situation was not right. Finally, the First Global Summit became a reality in November 2000 – despite the “Second Intefada” beginning just six weeks before the Summit. We do have plans to return to the Region, but our plans are contingent on a country agreeing to host a conference.
Regarding South Asia, the Third IIPT Global Summit was held in Pattaya, Thailand in 2005 with the theme: One Earth One Family – Travel and Tourism Serving a Higher Purpose. An outcome of that Summit was the City of Pattaya declaring itself as a City of Peace. It is time again to return to South Asia as you suggest and we hope that this will be possible.
Q: Do you have any successes of IIPT to share with us?
Our main success has been the pioneering of a “mind shift” in the tourism industry towards a “Higher Purpose of Tourism” beginning with our First Global Conference, Vancouver 1988 as outlined in my answer to the first question. The Vancouver Conference: Tourism – A Vital Force for Peace, with more than 200 presentations, represented the first major international conference with an “outside the box” examination of tourism.
The conference provided philosophical, social, psychological, cultural, heritage, communication, environmental, economic, developmental, educational, technological and historical perspectives on tourism. It presented case studies on tourism and conflict resolution, community tourism, building bridges of understanding, international collaboration, Peace Parks, tourism as citizen diplomacy, tourism in developing countries and more. In General, the conference focused on the importance of shaping tourism initiatives with the aim of:
Promoting mutual understanding, trust and goodwill;
Improving the quality of environment
Contributing to Sustainable Development
The Conference introduced for the first time the concept of Sustainable Tourism Development – four years prior to the Rio UN Summit on Environment and Development held in 1992.
The 800 delegates from 67 countries unanimously felt that it was the best – and most important conference they had ever attended.
IIPT built on these important foundations with further noteworthy successes including:
With a mandate from the Canadian tourism industry, developed the world’s first Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism - one year following the Rio Summit.
With a mandate from UNEP, conducted the world’s first international study of models of best practice.
Developed the guidelines for the PATA GreenLeaf Program
IIPT Credo of the Peaceful Traveler – inspired by the Vancouver Conference – has been included in academic text books, guide books, numerous articles and distributed through numerous travel companies and associations.
Through our on-going conferences and summits in different regions of the world, IIPT Chapters, IIPT Coalition of Partners, Scholarships, and Awards, IIPT has created global awareness to the potential of travel and tourism to contribute to broader societal and global objectives including the social, cultural, environmental, economic, and political spheres of society and to the realization of a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
One other major success I would like to share. In 1992, as Canada commemorated its 125th anniversary as a nation, IIPT conceived, designed, and implemented a program called “Peace Parks Across Canada.” From St. John’s, Newfoundland on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean – across five time zones to Victoria, British Columbia – 400 cities and towns dedicated a park to peace – each with a “Bosco Sacro,” a Peace Grove of 12 trees representing the ten Provinces and two Territories of Canada, a symbolic link with one another, and a symbol of hope for the future. Most the parks were dedicated at noon local time, October 8th, as a national “Peace Keeping Monument” was being dedicated in the Nation’s capitol. Of the more than 25,000 projects conducted that year, Peace Parks Across Canada was said to be the most significant.
On the 11 th hour, of the 11 th day, of the 11 th month – of the first year in the new Millennium, IIPT launched a Global Peace Parks initiative at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, baptismal site of Christ, as a legacy of the IIPT First Global Summit. Peace parks have been dedicated to date in Scotland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, the Philippines, Thailand, and Jamaica.
Q: Would you share with us your school age years, academic background, and stages of your career before founding IIPT?
My early school age years were more concerned with playing games and sports than with academics, particularly basketball at the “Boys Club” near my home, and baseball. A baseball team I played on as a youth won the city championship – and I took pride in playing every position on the team. Going on to high school, I finally started taking academics seriously in my third year when I began to think about my future – and that I would need to have good grades to get into college. I continued to play sports – football, basketball and baseball and was also elected President of my class, so I learned at this early stage of my life to make the best use of my time. From the skills developed playing table tennis at the Boys Club – I was also the table tennis champion of my high school for four years – and went on to win the city and county championships.
I was most fortunate to win an NROTC (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps) scholarship which fully covered tuition and all expenses for four years of college. This was the only way I would have been able to afford a college education – and I graduated cum laude from Holy Cross College – one of the top Catholic colleges in the U.S.
As a Midshipman in the NROTC program while in college – I was introduced to travel for the first time in my life. At a time when it was unusual for anyone to travel internationally – let alone a teen-ager, I took part in a naval cruise that enabled me to visit Barcelona, Rome, the towns in Italy that my parents emigrated from, and Glasgow. My love for travel and experiencing other cultures had been ignited.
Following college, I had a three year obligation to be an officer in either the Navy – or the U.S. Marine Corps – I chose the Marines. After a nine month period of basic training – I took a 30 day leave and traveled throughout Europe – “hitchhiking” on military aircraft flights – going wherever the flights were going – Madrid, London, Copenhagen, Germany, and Italy – nurturing further a love for travel and experiencing other cultures.
The three years of experience as a U.S. Marine Officer were profoundly significant in shaping my adult life – the leadership experience for a young person in their early twenties is incomparable – and I learned that physically, your body can accomplish much more than you ever thought it could. This had transference in later years in that as an individual – you can also achieve much more than you ever imagined. Being stationed in the Asia Pacific during the third year of my military career again gave me an opportunity to experience more cultures at a young age – Okinawa – Japan – Hong Kong – and the Philippines, and particularly valuable was my experience as a liaison officer with the Philippine Marine Corps – and subsequently with the Philippine Army during a major military exercise.
The time had come for me to decide on whether to stay in the Marine Corps and make it a career – or leave following my three year obligation. It was just prior to the U.S. entering fully into the Vietnam War. I was enjoying the military service, had an exemplary career up to that point, and had indeed volunteered and was selected to go to Vietnam to gain experience that would be brought back for training purposes. I decided that rather than preparing myself, and training others for something I would hope never happened – I should dedicate my life to outcomes I would like to see happen. And so I left the Marine Corps and went on to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to obtain an MBA with honors.
From there I joined what is now Deloitte Touche Consulting as an assistant to the Managing Partner in New York, then on to Rome, Italy for a one year consulting assignment, and then on to the Montreal Office for a four month assignment--staying on for three years before establishing my own consulting firm, L.J. D’Amore & Associates Ltd. Our clients included all levels of government, every province of Canada, and major private sector companies including Air Canada, Canadian Airlines, Via Rail and others.
Most projects that we conducted were projects that were done for the first time including for example, the first social impact assessments in Canada, and the world’s first study on the future of tourism as mentioned above. Three of our projects were national demonstration projects: the “West 10 Human Development Project” for Edmonton, Alberta provided for the coordinated delivery of human services with public participation in the policy and decision making process; the “St. John Human Development Project, St. John, New Brunswick - which completely transformed the City of St. John; and the National Community Energy Conservation Project involving three cities in eastern, central, and western Canada. This latter project was done during the second energy crisis – 1979 and ’80 with the aim of seeing “what’s possible when an entire city gets behind the idea of energy conservation.” The transference of this idea to IIPT is – “What’s possible when an entire industry – the world’s largest industry – gets behind the idea of Peace.”
Q: Any message you wish to share with people through this interview
Yes, we would like to invite organizations to join our Olympic Truce Campaign. Please see our March Newsletter and scroll down to the Olympic Truce article to click this link.
Brief of IIPT and its founder:
IIPT is a not for profit organization dedicated to ‘Making travel and tourism the world’s first global peace industry’ – and to promoting the belief that ‘Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.’
Prior to founding IIPT, Mr. D’Amore was President of L.J. D’Amore & Associates, a Canadian consulting firm with clients that included all levels of government and major private sector companies in various industry sectors. Three projects that he directed were “National Demonstration Projects” that combined his various skills and experience to shape the future of urban communities.
Mr. D’Amore has an MBA with honors from the Wharton Graduate School. He has been a member of the Canadian Institute of Management Consultants, and held offices as President, Canadian Travel and Tourism Research Association, and President, Canadian Futures Society. He is currently Chancellor of Livingstone International University (LIUTEBM). Mr. D’Amore is editor of two books, has published numerous articles in professional journals, been a guest lecturer at several prestigious universities, and given keynote addresses and talks at numerous national and international conferences. Mr. D’Amore was recently awarded the “Visionary Award” by the International Council of Tourism Partners